Detoxing from drug or alcohol use is the first step in many alcohol rehabilitation programmes. The purpose of it is to clear the body of the toxins built up through the use of drugs and alcohol.
In a rehab center, you’ll undergo a managed detox. You can also detoxify outside a residential center but you must seek medical advice first as it can be dangerous to do it without supervision.
The first stage of detox is withdrawal, which includes both mental and physical reactions. Many individuals experience withdrawal symptoms of varying severity. The type of withdrawal symptoms a person will experience and their severity depend on a number of factors.
The individual’s health etc.
The type of drug which is being withdrawn
The frequency and quantity of drugs or alcohol that was being used
The length of time someone has been using a substance Although cravings for drugs or alcohol will be strong at the start of detox, they should be greatly reduced (although perhaps not eradicated) once the process is complete. It is possible for individuals to receive medication to help them cope mentally and physically with withdrawal symptoms. They may be prescribed sedative medication to help with sleep, as well as medication to control other withdrawal symptoms and to replace vitamin deficiencies.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
Nausea and vomiting
Because of the side effects that can occur and the fact that they can sometimes be very serious, individuals are ALWAYS advised to seek medical help and advice before embarking on a detoxification programme.
Detox in a rehab centre
As well as providing medication to ease physical withdrawal symptoms, rehab clinics will usually also provide counselling and therapy to support individuals throughout detox.
You do not have to undergo detoxification in a rehab centre but you must consult a doctor first so that they can put together a detox plan for you.
Will detox work?
Detox has a high success rate in helping people to quit drug or alcohol abuse. However, it is not a ‘cure’ for addiction. What it does is helps someone stop using drugs or alcohol, in a safe, controlled way. Those with addiction problems still need to learn the skills to avoid relapse. Detox is about quitting drugs or alcohol. Counselling, rehab and therapy is about stopping and maintaining that abstinence.
Treatment is not complete after detox. To help prevent relapse you should be offered medical help and/ or treatment such as therapy or counselling. Even after treatment such as detox, counselling, a stay in a rehab centre, or all of the above, ongoing aftercare is still necessary to prevent relapse and to help individuals cope with the challenges they will inevitably face as they re-adjust to a life without using drugs or alcohol.